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Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make

Buying a home can be a lot of work. From the hunting, approvals, to the gathering of paper work, it can be overwhelming. It’s important to find a great broker to help guide you through some of this mess. We’ve collected some tips to make the process easier, so you can learn what not to do.


Do you research on the neighborhood you want to buy in. If you fall in love with a house, think about it first. Don’t just put an offer in. Consider what school district it’s in, what school would your kids or future kids go to. You’ll want to know if it’s a safe neighborhood, what’s the crime rate. Would you feel comfortable letting your kids roam the neighborhood during the day or night.

There are other neighborhood factors to consider. Is it near a noisy highway or train tracks? A great way to learn about the neighborhood is to talk to potential neighbors and ask the questions you want answers to.

Listen to your Head

Sometimes your heart just falls in love with a home, and you’re ready to make an offer then and there, because you’re sure it’s perfect. Be sure to look things over more critically, as you might miss something important. You know the saying “love is blind,” and this certainly applies to house hunting. Be sure to apply your same list of needs, wishes and wants to this property. You may have fallen in love with it, but it might not meet the standards you set for yourself, like being close to town, 4 bedrooms not 2, etc.

Get Pre-Approved

We say it all the time: getting pre-approved is crucial to house hunting. Why hunt for properties that you’re not sure you can afford? Who wants to make an offer on a property only to find out your loan is denied? The best way to get out ahead of this problem is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting. That way you know what the bank will loan you and what you can afford. It will stop you from looking at houses that are out of your budget, and prevent you from wasting time and getting your hopes up.


If you’ve only ever rented before, the cost of paying for full utilities might come as a shock to you. Water and sewer typically are included in rent, but as a homeowner you’re on the hook for everything. If your washing machine breaks down, you can’t call a landlord to come and fix it, you’re responsible for the repairs and the repair bill. If your roof leaks in the winter, it’s up to you to get it fixed and shovel the roof. These are all typical growing pains that come with owning a house. The obvious benefit of owning over renting is that you’re putting equity in something, and depending on your market, you could stand to earn more in the value of your home as time goes on. It’s important to note that most mortgages are less expensive than monthly rents, so the extra money you’re saving can go to cover unforeseen expenses.

There are a lot of questions that come with buying a home for the first time. Having an experienced broker to walk you through the process, and answer any questions you have, can be crucial. Find someone you trust, both to find you the perfect home, and to help you close the deal.

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Relationship status and Mortgages

It’s 2017 and there’s no real order to the way that couples do things anymore. Whether you get married and buy a house, or date and live together, most people do things in whatever order they want to. What most don’t consider is how different applying for a mortgage is as a single person, partners or when you’re married. They all differ, and we’re here to break them down for you.


If you’re married and applying for a mortgage with your spouse, there are a couple things you need to know. Being married definitely makes the process easier, but it comes with its own set of hiccups. Being married may help you qualify for better loan terms, as they’ll take the income that you both earn. It helps your debt-to-income ratio as it counts two incomes against the debt you owe. No matter your situation or relationship status, a mortgage is still dependent on income, debt and your credit score.

Something important to note, is that when you apply for a mortgage as a couple, the lender uses the lower of the two credit scores. So if you have terrible credit, but your spouse doesn’t it may make more sense to leave the person with lower credit off of the mortgage application.

If you still want to apply together, you may face higher interest rates. You should consider saving up a bigger down payment, as this will cause you to finance less of the property, perhaps encouraging better rates. You could always look at a less expensive home, or choose higher interest rates and monthly payments.


If you’re single you can make whatever financial decisions, you want. You don’t have to take someone else’s needs and wants into the consideration and you don’t have to worry about their financial history and credit score when you’re applying for a house. Your relationship status won’t be held against you by a lender, and depending on your finances it could benefit you. The one con to applying for a mortgage as a single person is that you don’t have the benefit of a double-income household to help with your mortgage rates. If you, as a single person, earn a high income and have little to not debt in your name, you could be in a good position to purchase a home on your own.

You also have the option as a single person, to buy a home with a co-signer. This makes some mortgage companies more likely to lend to you, as the co-signer agrees to take over mortgage payments if you fail to do so. Co-signing can make a huge difference for a single home purchaser, but it can be dangerous. If you do run into trouble on your payments, it puts pressure on your co-signer, as they’re on the hook financially.

Committed Relationship

Being married isn’t a requirement to borrow money for a home loan. It’s better to consider this as it will add more complication and responsibility to a relationship. If your relationship ever ended, it’s important to consider that it’s harder to split up jointly owned property, because no one is required to go through legal property division. Lenders will happily loan money to unmarried couples, and most of the same rules apply; you can apply using combined incomes, but the lowest credit score will still be used.

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Spring home improvement, for a Summer Sale

It’s been said that there are three things that influence a home sale at any time: location, price and condition. The condition that your home is in can really influence interest from prospective buyers, even if the things they notice are minor cosmetic changes. Here are some tips for smaller home improvement projects you can get started on now, if you’re planning to list your home this summer.

Front Walk

The front of your house can be the first thing that prospective buyers notice about your house. Some brokers think that prospective buyers decide within 60 seconds if they’re interested in a house or not. It’s important to spend time weeding, mowing the lawn, and taking care of your flower beds. If you don’t have any landscaping done, it might be time to consider some. Decide how much of an investment you want to make in your home, and perhaps hire a landscaper. While some people might like a blank canvas as far as landscaping is concerned, it might be a turn off for others. Talk to your Bend Oregon realtor and see what their opinion is. They’ll know what buyers are looking for and be able to advice you as to whether or not you’ll see a return on your investment.


A great tip if you’re selling your home is to pare down your belongs. If you have a closet stuffed full of clothes, it will make your closet look smaller. If you’re planning a move, it’s already a great idea to start waning down the possessions you don’t need. Eliminate the clutter from your home, to make the spaces open up.

Something that most sellers don’t consider, is getting rid of unneeded furniture. It doesn’t matter whether you’re moving a long distance away or a short one; no one wants to move an unneeded couch or armchair twice. If you don’t need it, chances are it’s cluttering your house. Getting rid of extras like this will help the appeal of your home.

A simple paint job can work wonders on dark rooms or nooks within your home. Remove the clutter from reading nooks or corners, and paint them a brighter color to let more light in.

Clean your carpets, especially if you have pets. While you may not smell your pets’ scent in the rug, people walking through your home will. Invest in a carpet cleaner or rent one, and clean all of the rugs and carpets in your home. If you’re lucky enough to experience warmer weather, throw open the windows in your house and let the rugs air out as they dry. This is essential to any spring cleaning session, but will go a long way if you have prospective buyers walking through your home.

Small Repairs

It may be a good option to hire your own home inspector or to ask what it is specifically that they look for. Make sure your home is up to code. You wouldn’t want to lose an offer, just because you fail a portion of the inspection. It will inevitably cost you less to fix things before a home inspection, as you’ll have time on your side. You won’t be in such a rush to find the contractor that can do the job the quickest.

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February Real Estate Forecast shows a prolonged Seller’s Market in Central Oregon

The month of February was a highly active month, following a busy January. The number of active listings fell slightly, as did sold listings, but the number of pending sales continued to stay high, promising an active March.

Continued Seller’s Market

The number of active listings continued to fall through the month of February, going from 355 active listings in January to 324 listings in February. When you have a lower number of listings available in a market, it allows property owners to keep their prices higher, as other available or similar properties are more scarce. A lower inventory is still to be expected for this time of the year, before we make our way into warmer months and the active sales trends of spring.

Pending Sales

The number of pending sales is still relatively high, continued from an active January. In December, we experienced a high number of pending listings, especially for that time of year, coming in at 145. In January, pending sales climbed to a high of 185, and then fell slightly to 172 in February. Due to the number of existing pending sales at the end of February, we expect a higher number of closed sales in March.

Number of Sold properties

Completed sales stayed consistently high for this time of year, probably a symptom of the seller’s market in Central Oregon. The completion of pending sales from January, also contributed to a consistent number of sales, going from 130 in January to 128 in February.

Final Analysis

We expect to see more active listings in the market in the coming months. The best time to get a property listed is now. It’s the right time to have your listing featured with minimal competition from similar properties, before the sales of spring take off.

We would love to help you with buying or selling real estate. Visit us at, browse our Facebook page, or call us at (541) 382-8262.

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How do Real Estate Pros look for property

Have you ever hemmed and hawed over a property before, wondering if it was the best home for you? Maybe it had everything you were looking for, and one major or minor flaw, like high traffic, busy street, no parking, no garage, etc. Here’s some expert advice, from non-other than real estate brokers themselves.


When you’re looking at multiple properties you can lose track of the important details. Make sure you have a system in place for when you’re house hunting to stay as organized as possible, whether it’s a spread sheet outlining everything your top properties have or don’t. Tips from brokers: check out simple things like the sewer line. Ask how old the appliances are, don’t be dazzled by new counter tops, when the oven is about to die any day. Ask about variants in the homeowners’ insurance coverage. Are there any oddities to the coverage due to the architecture or property? Check out older trees on the property to make sure you’re not taking on a hefty removal and potential re-planting process if you do decide to purchase the home.


Consider your lifestyle and what you’re really looking for in a home. If you’re looking for a property with little maintenance and you don’t want a lawn to mow, a condo might be the right style of property for you. Vice versa, if you’re sick of living in apartments or condos and having shared walls, a single-family home might be exactly what you’re looking for. The added bonus to a single-family home is that you’re not only investing in the house itself, but also the land that it’s on.

One of the biggest things real estate agents see is younger buyers who invest in a property and don’t care about the amenities, or school district it’s in, because they don’t currently have kids and maybe aren’t planning to. They often times see those younger buyers turning around and selling the property they spent 5 years in, because their family size has changed and the home no longer suits their needs. Be more forward thinking when you’re investing in a property, and you’ll save yourself the headache of having to move, buy and sell a house again.

Focus on your Priorities

Don’t let yourself be dazzled by the cosmetic things. You can always install new counter tops in the kitchen, or floors, or do a little bathroom renovation. But you can’t change the price you paid for a home or its location. If location is crucial to you in your house hunt, don’t forget that. If a home has everything you’re looking for but is another 20 minutes out of your way, it’s something you need to consider before you buy. If you find a home that’s closer, that can easily be worked on to add the things you want, and it’s at or below your budget, it might be something you want to consider. Remember you can usually always add things later to a home.


As always consider the resale value. If the home you’re looking at is far more expensive than other homes in the neighborhood, chances are you’ll have a harder time selling it at an appropriate higher price. Don’t buy something too different or unique that you’ll have a hard time selling.

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Important things to tell your realtor

Finding a realtor that understands exactly what you’re looking for in a property can be hard. Make sure you schedule a meeting and sit down with your broker, so that you do understand each other. It’s important to make a list of the features of a home that you can’t live without, that you would prefer, and things that you don’t want in your ideal home. Take the time to sit down and go over what they should know and what your top priorities are. If your broker understands your needs, wants and dislikes, they’re much more likely to find the perfect property for you, and not waste time showing listings that you’re not interested in.


It can be easy to forget when house hunting, but where you buy a house in most areas determines where your kids go to school. If you have a preference over the schools in the area that you’re looking to buy in, it’s important to tell your broker that. Even if you don’t currently have kids, it’s still something important to consider.

If having easy access to amenities, like grocery stores, theaters, shopping, restaurants, etc. is important to you, your broker needs to know that. It’s important for your broker to understand whether you want to be within walking or driving distance from cultural centers like this. If this is a like, but not a requirement it could influence the listings your broker wants to show.

Heating System

Something that can easily be forgotten when house hunting is how a home is heated. If the way a home is heated is something that truly matters, let your broker know. This may make a difference if you’re looking for properties in a colder or warmer climate. If you have a preferred method of heating, especially if it’s a deal breaker, tell your broker.  Be sure to check the heating system in place before you make an offer, or you could wind up with an expensive home to heat.


If the way the house is laid out, is important to you, again tell your broker. They need to know if you want to look at split level homes, or if you only want to see single level homes. If you want an open floor plan, a formal dining room, etc. your broker can show you properties that pertain to your wants and needs, if they know what they are.

If you only want to look at rural or urban properties, if a pool is a must or not, these are things that you need to sit down and outline in your lists with your agent. Consider the lifestyle that you live, and what aspects of a home you need to keep your comfort.

Take Away

When discussing your price range with your agent, let them know which things you’re willing to pay more for. If your budget won’t budge, they need to know that. If they find you a home with everything that you want, but it’s out of your price range, your broker needs to know where you draw the line. Find the Bend realtor you trust most, and discuss what you want in a dream property or home.

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The Strategy Behind Making an Offer

Looking at homes can be a really exciting time, but when it comes to making an offer things can get stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing or are unsure of what the best strategy is. We’ve broken down the strategy of making an offer, and included helpful tips and tricks in understanding the process.

Purchase Offers

Once you find a house that fits everything you’ve been looking for it’s time to make an offer. You will first need to make a purchase offer, or purchase agreement. This is essentially a letter of intent to purchase that property.  It’s a legal document that outlines the price that you’re willing to pay for the home, including how you plan to pay for it.

Most real estate brokers have pre-written templates of purchase offers, that are easy to update with the terms specific to your offer. The laws concerning purchase offers can vary by state, but typically are legally binding after the seller has accepted them. Purchase offers often include an earnest money deposit. This deposit shows the seller that you are serious about purchasing the home or property. In some cases, if the offer falls through the earnest money may not be refundable, but if the offer closes successfully, the earnest money is often credited toward closing costs.

Comparative Market Analysis

One of the best ways to make the strongest offer possible is to know what’s going on in the market around the property that you’re interested in. Ask your real estate broker to order a comparative market analysis, which will evaluate three recent sales of comparable properties in your desired properties’ area. It helps you to know what similar homes in a similar market are selling for, so you don’t over offer on an overpriced home. It helps you understand where the negotiation room is.

Time on Market

It’s important to consider how long a property has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for a long time, it shows that there has been little buyer interest in the property. This might indicate that it is over-priced, and that the owner might be more willing to accept a lower offer. If the home hasn’t been on the market for very long, and there seems to be a ton of interest, you may want to make an offer that is slightly above asking price.

Consider other offers that the owner may be receiving and talk to your real estate broker about what they would recommend. Brokers aren’t allowed to suggest asking prices, but they should give you recommendations and suggestions so that your offer is the strongest one. If you can try to learn about other offers on the property. Other purchase orders only become public record once the seller has accepted them.

The most important part of making an offer is to know everything you can about the seller and the available property. Once you do, you’re most likely to make an offer that they accept. Talk to your real estate broker for advice on individual listings and sellers, to see if they can help you send a winning offer.

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January Real Estate Forecast shows a strong start to the 2017 Central Oregon Real Estate Market

The beginning of 2017 showed a strong start to the year in real estate. January was a highly active month, with a lower number of active listings, and completed sales, but high number of pending sales, expected to finish in February.

Seller’s Market

 The number of active listings decreased in January, going from 402 to 355. Central Oregon is currently experiencing a strong seller’s market, with anticipated low inventory at this time of year. The low number of listings allow for property owners to take advantage of fewer competing properties. We predict that the seller’s market will continue for at least another month, before listings increase in anticipation of spring selling trends.

High Pending Sales

January was an exceptionally strong month for pending listings. In November and December, the number of pending listings were 156 and 145, respectively, which is high. The number of pending listings in January sky rocketed to 185. We expect these pending sales to complete in February, making February sold properties higher than previously anticipated. It shows that now is a great time to buy and that the Central Oregon Real Estate Market is still thriving through the winter months.

Average Completed Sales

Given the inclement weather in early January, a lower number of completed sales is to be expected. Considering the high number of pending sales, the number of sold properties for the month of January was expected to be lower, dropping from 192 sold properties to 130 in January.

Final Analysis

The Central Oregon Real Estate market is expected to see a lot of traffic in the coming warmer months, as the Bend area is still experiencing continued interest. We’re predicting that fewer priced reductions will take place, as the low number of listings encourages more competition per property, and negates the need to price more competitively. With a strong seller’s market, now is the time to get a property listed. Learn about what we can do to help you with buying or selling real estate by visiting, browsing our Facebook page, or calling us at (541) 382-8262.

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2017 Economic Outlook

Hello Central Oregonians,

Welcome to the new year! December closed out 2016 with a bang. Sales were up, home prices have seen record highs recently, all leading to a powerful seller’s market this winter.

The “Housing Bubble” of past markets is not what our area market is experiencing today.  The steady and strong market recovery over the last several years has resulted in the highest home prices within our market over the past decade.

Property inventories are very low at this time, even considering that, historically, winter months are the time of the year to expect a lower number of available properties.  There continues to be a healthy number of potential buyers looking for “the right property”. This time of year, is an optimal time for sellers to get their property on the market and take advantage of fewer competing properties.

Given the seller’s market and a consistent number of property sales in prior months, we expect to see an active beginning to 2017’s real estate market in Central Oregon. Due to increased continual interest in the Bend area, we expect to see fewer price reductions in the coming months as well.

Many ask us if we see a housing bubble happening in the future.  We don’t foresee housing prices dropping in the next couple of years. Housing prices in the area fell to their lowest point in 2010 and have been on the rise since. We expect a slow upward trend in the future.  Over the past year, home values have appreciated each month by slightly more than 1 percent.  All indications show a slower yet steady rise over the next two years.

Keeping track of the current real estate trends in Central Oregon, is our business at Duke Warner Realty. We compile comprehensive market data that is available to home sellers and buyers. We’re constantly analyzing local market trends to better help our prospective clients, buyers and sellers.

We’re already keeping an eye out for the trends of spring, and the coming warmer months. Learn about what we can do to help you with buying or selling real estate by visiting, browsing our Facebook page, or calling us at 541-382-8262.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead,

Duke Warner Realty

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Why Pre-approval should be your first step

If you’re starting to house hunt, and have faced the question “Are you pre-approved?” it might be time to consider investigating more.  Being pre-approved can speed up your house hunting search, and can help you secure the home or property of your dreams before someone else does. Here are some benefits of being pre-approved.

Pre-qualified and pre-approved

Understanding the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved is important. Pre-approved means that a lender has checked your credit score and verified your documentation, so that you are approved for a specific loan or mortgage amount if you need it. Being pre-approved usually lasts for a 90-day period in most states.  Pre-qualified means that an estimation of how much you can afford to spend on a mortgage from month to month has been done, but it is not final. Your final loan approval happens when you have the property that you’re going to apply the loan to and you have an appraisal done on that property.

Getting pre-approved

Bring proof of your income for the last two years. All loans currently need this proof of income. W-2s are also accepted, in addition to pay stubs. Bring bank statements, investment account statements, etc. to show that you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, fees, etc.

You also will need to provide proof of employment, or employment verification. Today lenders want to make sure that they are loaning money to someone with stable employment, as it increases the odds of the loan being paid back in full. They may call to verify your employment and check on your salary. Don’t forget the basics: your driver’s license, a social security number and permission for the lender to pull your credit report.

Good credit

Good credit takes time, and it’s necessary to purchase a home with a loan or mortgage. If you’re considering buying a home sometime in the near future, monitor your credit and make sure it’s acceptable to be applying for a loan. Talk to a banker or lender, or financial advisor to see what you can work on to improve your credit in the meantime.


Be advised to shop around to see who is going to offer you the best mortgage rate and the best interest rate in your state and area. Apply for those rates to get pre-approved. Meet with a lender to discuss your options, find out what you may or may not be able to afford. Getting pre-approved prior to house hunting helps your search, because you know what you can or can’t feasibly afford.